Two Saturday nights ago, on January 28, to be exact, found me traveling yet again to good ol’ Downtown Tulsa, to check out Hortonfest 2012 at Fassler Hall.
From what I understand, this year’s Hortonfest got quite a bit of publicity, but just in case you didn’t hear about it, Hortonfest was a night of fantastic local music to celebrate the birthday of Brian Horton. Well who the heck is Brian Horton, you might ask…
Brian is a Tulsan who has singlehandedly done more for the local music scene in the last few years than just about anyone else. He helped Paul Benjaman get to SXSW 2010 with a CD in hand, has bankrolled multiple production and merchandising efforts for quite a few local bands, and even started a not-for-profit record label, Horton Records. In 2010 Horton released the New Tulsa Sound CD, a compilation of Tulsa bands that’s a great example of the talent and diversity of our local music scene. If you don’t own it – you should. Buy it NOW.
So to celebrate Brian’s birthday, a night of New Tulsa Sound music was on the calendar for January 28th. I trekked up to Fassler Hall and after moseying up to the bar for my big tall glass of water, I found Dylan Layton, guitarist/bassist extraordinaire, at the back of the room. By the sound board. Would you expect anything different from a musician?
Actually Dylan was in the back because Fassler was packed – I’ll bet it was part “usual crowd,” part “friends of the band” and the rest “people wanting to party with Brian Horton.” In any event, there were tons of people everywhere. I missed Desi & Cody & Friends, which I am sad about, but I’ve bought one of their EPs so hopefully that makes up for something…
The first band I saw take the stage was a reunion of Dustin and Jesse’s Higher Education – a group of musicians that used to play every week at McNellie’s. This was the first time I’d seen them – and I’m so sorry about that! Dustin Pittsley and Jesse Aycock were on guitar, Skin Tight Dave White on bass, Rocky Frisco on keys, Dylan Aycock and Andrew Bones sharing drum duty… oh and let’s see, Seth Lee Jones sat in on guitar, and there were 2 (2!) fiddle players at one point – Jocelyn Hughes and Sharla Pember.
Whew! And YES it was all that and a bag of chips.
And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Paul Benjaman took the stage. With him was Jesse Aycock and Lloyd Price also on guitar, and Seth Lee Jones sat in for a while too, Bo Wayne Hallford on bass, Andrew Bones on drums, Scott Mason with percussion duty, Jeff Newsome on keys, and Jocelyn Hughes on the fiddle. Whoa! That Paul Benjaman boy can play guitar alright. He’s RED DIRT for sure. He’s also really fun to watch – he always looks like he’s having a fantastic time. It’s great to see people being so joyous doing what they love and you definitely get that feeling when watching Paul play.
Let’s see, there was also a giant HORTONFEST birthday cake (complete with Motorhead-style lettering, nice touch guys), Horton Records merch for sale – I got a nice light grey tee – and the usual mix of interesting folks, a huge beer selection, and of course hearty food choices that go great with beer…
It finally became a little too crowded for me and I left for the evening… I k now I missed the end of Paul Benjaman’s set and I’m sad about this – but fortunately I can catch him every Sunday night at The Colony. Maybe next time I have a Monday off…
Happy Birthday Brian, and thanks for everything you do for the Tulsa Music Scene – here’s to many more years of the New Tulsa Sound.
jesse aycock, left, and dustin pittsley of higher education
jesse aycock, left, and paul benjaman, bo hallford on bass
and here’s a video from when i managed to get up front for a bit.